Basics of Book Writing

Type of Book

This is the most important aspect of the project. Are you going to write a nonfiction book or a fiction novel? If the book is going to be a nonfiction book, there is more than one way to decide which type of book to write. One can look at the market and see what is most needed. One can look at oneself and see what one most wants to write about. Each leads to a good decision but not the same kind of wise choice.

If the book is going to be nonfiction, then one needs to make a decision on which type. Likewise if fiction, it helps to know the genre before one begins the writing process.

The goal of the end product does also matter. If one is just doing the work for fun, without any need to make money from doing it, then one can be driven more by preference and maybe take more risks. Money making endeavors can involve risks, but on

Planning

You may have just a simple form of the idea.

Pitch

You have to decide based on your self-knowledge whether or not you are going to pitch your idea to the publishing industry at this stage, or after you have an outline, or after you have written the book. There is one other option and that is to put together enough for a book proposal and pitch that.

Pitching an idea, means meeting with or calling or emailing industry moguls to see if any of them are interested in your idea. For some people this is the easy part, but for others this is the part that is harder than making a private trip to the Moon.

Outline and first draft

When that is the case you can start with an outline. In the case of fiction, some authors prefer to develop a detailed plot line and outline before they get to writing. Others begin by just writing and seeing where the creative process leads. People like that often face a great deal more editing after they have produced a first draft.

Depending upon the other demands in your life and your over all personality structure, you may also need to create a scheduled production time. This could be anything from ‘for an hour in the morning before the children get up’ to ‘9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.’

Editing & Book Proposals

After you have a draft, you can edit the entire work. Around the same time that you do this, you can also begin to query, and to prepare the book proposals. If you pitched and it worked, then you know who will be directing your queries to or where you will be submitting your book proposal. If you have had astoundingly good luck, then you will actually already have a publishing deal for your book. In that case, you know where to send the edited version of the book.

Editing tips: while a lot of editing can be done right after you complete the work, the more emotionally invested or simply overworked you are from writing the first draft the more you need to let the draft just sit for a while before you edit it. How long it should just lie around without you doing anything with it can vary from 2 weeks to 13 years. In most cases, you will be able to edit the thing with improved emotional distance after 2 weeks to 2 months. Even if you think you are not emotional about your book project, you should wait. Once you forget the exact details of what you meant to write, it will be easier to see what you actually wrote. Typos and other errors will become more readily apparent.

If you have the money and the connections to, hire a second person to edit the work for you at least once. Constructive criticism can be a big help in improving your performance. Outside editors tend to see things you miss as the author. In some cases, your editor will make you happy by showing you how well you wrote your book or story.

Once the work is edited, put together your query letter and assemble any other information the prospective publishers may want from you. This may include: an overview of the market for the type of book you have written, the first 3 chapters of the manuscript, a direct sales pitch letter to the publishing company to convince them how great your book is. They do normally expect a short bio, but it can be quite brief, telling them mainly how or where your work has been published and how well you were paid or if the problem is that you were not.

Submission

You may have to decide where to submit your book. You can try literary agents and you can try publishers. The Writer’s Market is one example of a resource that tells you which publishing companies require literary agent representation and which ones do not.

You also have to check whether or not simultaneous submissions are viewed as acceptable. Simultaneous submissions is like dating multiple people without having to get sexually involved in order to land a spouse or both in one. Some people get offended by it, and others are comfortable with it. Check with the publisher or literary agency.

Nowadays, you may sometimes email the publisher or literary agent. There are people who prefer this, and others who still want it the old fashioned way. Find this out to submit the way they want it.

Response

There is nothing left to do after submission but wait. Most of the results of a long wait are the way it is in romance: you don’t want to marry each other and you aren’t ever going to have sex. They will neither represent your book – in the case of a literary agency, nor will the publisher actually accept your book for their investment and publication.

Now and then you will be fortunate and get a positive response. Sometimes a positive response means “We can’t use this one but if you write another book, be sure to let us take a look at it.”

Be wary, but realistic. Many a positive early response rather than being serendipity should set off your alarms. It is probably a self-publishing company willing to publish your book as long as you pay them to. There are times when self-publishing is a perfectly sound idea but for most writers who are still naïve about the publishing industry, having no one but self-publishers interested after all your hard work can be devastating or, for the tough minded, only a little disappointing.

Seriously, it is possible for an author to ‘hit the jackpot’ and get a big publishing company to pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, even as an advance on sales for your book. Not only that, but in some cases, the editors won’t even change it so much that you no longer feel as if it is the book you submitted to them but does still have your name listed as the author.

Most likely, that is not what will happen. Most likely, if you have written a really good book you will be able to find a small publishing company willing to support your work with a small advance or no advance but a decent professional production of the book. In other cases, you can get it self published. I’m not sure about the % on this.

A large minority of writers will find that after all their hard work absolutely nothing more will ever come of the project. After a while, the author will get over the shock and numb, and move on with his or her life.

 

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